DARIEN — Students and staff at Darien High School were dismissed shortly after school began on Monday due to the odor created by a faulty oil burner.

School officials reported overnight an oil burner at the school was not functioning properly and an odor was detected on the first floor of the building Monday morning. While not harmful, they deemed the the smell to be uncomfortable and disruptive to the learning process.

“We became aware of the issue first thing (that) morning,” said Principal Ellen Dunn in an email to parents. “The system has been adjusted and the problem corrected but the ventilation system will take some time to refresh the building. The fire and police have evaluated the situation and have determined that the air quality is safe.”


The school reopened Tuesday and at a Board of Education meeting that night, Michael Lynch, facilities manager for the district, said there is a temporary repair in place.

“There is a crack in a suction line on the oil system,” he said. “The boiler wasn’t getting the correct amount of oil at the right pressure so it was puffing on and off.”

Lynch added this led to exhaust fumes sitting on roof instead of puffing out, leading them to get sucked back into the building through the fresh air vents.

At the same meeting, unrelated to the incident, the board moved to add a proposed project for the upcoming budget cycle to potentially replace the oil burners with natural gas burners. This proposed capital project would cost an estimated $65,000 and keep the current boilers in place.

ekayata @hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata